Saturday, 21 January 2017

Driven wild

The diocese is abandoning its practice of sending its daily cycle of prayer to clergy (the expectation is that they will either download it or specifically request a paper copy) so I imagine it will become much less used (unless, I suppose, the shift to clergy saying Matins from texts on their smart phones becomes normative).

This morning, the less gracious part of me didn’t think this would be a great loss.  The request is to pray today for:   

HMP Lincoln, IRC Morton Hall and HMP North Sea Camp.  We pray for the governors and all staff in each location.  Pray for the multi-faith chaplaincy teams and volunteers, as they continue to learn to work together in building hope and in showing people the difference that faith can make in their lives.

I’m sure the staff and chaplaincy provision are well worth praying for, and that building hope and showing people what faith can do are always good things.  I’m just gobsmacked that the compilers of the cycle of prayer don’t think that those detained are worth identifying (other than, by implication, as the passive subjects of ministry and evangelism).  

For the avoidance of doubt, IRC Morton Hall is an Immigration Removal Centre, so its appearance in the middle of a list of prisons is, at the very least, a striking mis-characterisation.

A young Polish man with mental health problems killed himself there ten days ago having been refused bail, the second such death there in a short period of time.  There are all sorts of prayers which could be offered, perhaps 'please God, turn the hearts of those in government so that fewer vulnerable people die as a result of their policies' would be among the most appropriate.

This sort of thing isn’t unique.  I remember once being invited to a meeting to ‘pray for Grimsby’ at an independent church in this parish.  At one point we were told of a church which was hosting a new group for the families of those who are drug dependant.  Prayers were then offered that this would be an effective form of witness.  No prayer was offered for the drug dependant or for their families.

I have no new photograph, so have unearthed this old one of mine from the churchyard at Northchurch in Hertfordshire.  Peter was found in a German forest in the eighteenth century and brought to England by the Queen.  

His lack of speech was attributed to his having grown up in wild isolation.  Today we suspect that he has a genetic disorder (his portrait shows some of the facial features of one the symptoms of which include lack of speech) and is much more likely to have been abandoned not that long before he was found.  He lived (on a royal pension) to be an old man.

Revised 26th January

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